Jesus’ disciples had a bad habit of trying to make themselves great. As much as preachers like to pick on them for bickering over who would get to sit next to Jesus in His Kingdom, ironically, most of us are guilty of doing the same thing.
This is what Jesus had to say about our attempts at self-promotion.
25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Greatness doesn’t come by sitting next to Jesus in the kingdom or by having the largest or fasting-growing church in town.
Greatness comes from service!
A trip to the leadership section of a Christian book store will indicate that a lot of church leaders are really into growing their churches. If you look at the schedule for any church leader conference, the word “growth” is almost certain to appear on multiple occasions. If you look at the leaders of church leaders, conveniently they almost all have large congregations and/or experienced rapid growth.
What does that say about our focus?
- Are we looking to serve the community or for the community to serve us?
- Are we looking for the best ways to grow our church or the best ways to serve the community?
Jesus tended to run off the crowds when they got too big. Everyone remembers the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000, but they forget that in that same chapter he scares off a bunch of people by telling them to eat his flesh and drink his blood (John 6:66 [that is a very unfortunate verse]). If your measurement of success is numbers, that’s a really bad idea. But if your focus is somewhere else, that might be a really good idea.
What would church look like if we started measuring success based off of service rather than numbers?